WASHINGTON, April 10 -- Jung-Eun Kim, a freelance South Korean video journalist, and Peter Charley, a veteran Australian journalist, have been awarded the 2000 grand prize by the SAIS-Novartis International Journalism Award Program.
The second prize was awarded to Wall Street Journal correspondent Ian Johnson, and the third prize went to French freelance journalist Anne Nivat. There were 10 finalists altogether.
The SAIS-Novartis program is administered by Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and supported by Novartis, a health care products company. Novartis plays no role in the judging process. The 2000 competition involved more than 230 entries from 38 countries -- 35 percent more entries than were received in 1999.
Kim and Charley won the $15,000 grand prize for their video report "On Life's Border: The North Korean Refugees," produced for Australia's SBS-TV Network program, "Dateline." Over a period of 12 months, Kim secretly used a tiny digital camera to document the plight of starving North Korean refugees hiding out in northeast China. "Her intimate and sensitive storytelling allows viewers to feel the anguish of a fugitive family forced to give away its three children in a desperate struggle for their survival," says SAIS.
"This is very gripping reporting about a situation that has been reported quite a number of times," said Don Oberdorfer, former diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, journalist-in-residence at SAIS, and a member of the awards Jury. "But it brought it into a human dimension in such a very powerful way that a print report is impossible to do. It is unique."
The Wall Street Journal's Johnson won the second prize for "A Death in China: The Politics of Repression." The series focused on the events surrounding the torture and death of a Falun Gong practitioner in order to illustrate the challenges of modernizing China.
The reports provide insight into the Chinese government, which is reforming its economy, but still relies on authoritarianism to maintain control over its dynamically changing society.
"It shows how one courageous reporter at risk, because he's passionate about the story, uses his organization's resources to stay on the story and give us greater insight about an important chapter in the unfolding saga of political developments in China," noted Maria Ressa, CNNs Jakarta Bureau Chief and SAIS-Novartis juror.
Nivat won the third prize for "A Dirty War in Chechnya," a series of reports on life inside the Chechen war zone written for La Liberation Daily and U.S. News and World Report, and sent via satellite phone during her six months there.
"This is a good piece of courageous journalism, that is timely and provides great insight," said Sunday Dare, a Nigerian magazine editor and SAIS-Novartis juror. "This rookie freelance reporter captured important stages of a crucial civil conflict despite the personal danger."
The other top-ten finalists will receive awards at a banquet next week at the National Press Club. In alphabetical order they are:
Roger Cohen, for his New York Times series "Crossing Borders" which chronicles how immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East are literally changing the face of Europe by voting with their feet.
Barton Gellman for his Washington Post report, "Death Watch: AIDS in Africa," a narrative of the decisions, acts, and omissions that underlay the failure of the powerful institutions controlling most of the globe's wealth and science to prevent the worsening of AIDS epidemic in Africa.
Yovo Nokolov for his investigative report "The Highways of Violence," published in The Capital Weekly. This Bulgarian journalist probed the illegal trafficking of female "sex slaves" from Bulgaria and the Newly Independent States along trade routes through Greece, Turkey, and Macedonia to Western Europe.
Tim Johnson for "Colombia," his beat for The Miami Herald. His stories report the trauma of an agonized nation's battle against a 35-year-old insurgency, a war on drugs, continuing corruption, and kidnappings. The stories put a human face on these complex conflicts while exploring their wider implications for Colombian society and the hemisphere.
Sebastian Junger and Teun Voeten for their Vanity Fair magazine reports, "The Terror of Sierra Leone" and "The Terror Recorded." Their articles and photographs give an eyewitness account of rebel warlord Foday Sankoh's brutal but failed coup attempt, and offer an analysis of the highly profitable illegal diamond trade that fuels Sierra Leone's bloody conflict.
Giselle Portenier and Edward Stourton for their BBC documentary report "Israel Accused." This is an investigation of human rights abuses in Lebanon during Israel's 15-year occupation. It tells the story of Khiam prison, where thousands of Lebanese, including women and children, were often tortured and held without charges or trial.
Petra Prochazkova and Jaromir Stetina for their Czech-TV documentary, "Dark Side of the World." This graphic look at the Chechen conflict was filmed during the battle for Grozny and the Russian occupation of Samashki, and focuses on the lives of soldiers and ordinary citizens of Chechnya.